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Career Profile: Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters

Assemble, install, alter, and repair pipelines or pipe systems that carry water, steam, air, or other liquids or gases. May install heating and cooling equipment and mechanical control systems. Includes sprinkler fitters.

Salary and Outlook

According to the US Department of Labor, there are 469,900 people employed as plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters in the United States. The median annual salary is $56,300. Entry level employees earn approximately $33,460 per year and senior employees earn approximately $98,990 per year.

Estimates do not include other potential benefits such as health insurance, overtime pay, or retirement benefits that may be offered by employers.

Job Duties

  • Anchor steel supports from ceiling joists to hold pipes in place.
  • Estimate time, material, or labor costs for use in project plans.
  • Install underground storm, sanitary, or water piping systems, extending piping as needed to connect fixtures and plumbing.
  • Inspect structures to assess material or equipment needs, to establish the sequence of pipe installations, or to plan installation around obstructions, such as electrical wiring.
  • Install green plumbing equipment, such as faucet flow restrictors, dual-flush or pressure-assisted flush toilets, or tankless hot water heaters.
  • Cut openings in structures to accommodate pipes or pipe fittings, using hand or power tools.
  • Inspect work sites for obstructions or holes that could cause structural weakness.
  • Install fixtures, appliances, or equipment designed to reduce water or energy consumption.
  • Fill pipes or plumbing fixtures with water or air and observe pressure gauges to detect and locate leaks.
  • Cut, thread, or hammer pipes to specifications, using tools such as saws, cutting torches, pipe threaders, or pipe benders.
  • Maintain or repair plumbing by replacing defective washers, replacing or mending broken pipes, or opening clogged drains.
  • Locate and mark the position of pipe installations, connections, passage holes, or fixtures in structures, using measuring instruments such as rulers or levels.
  • Review blueprints, building codes, or specifications to determine work details or procedures.
  • Attach pipes to walls, structures, or fixtures, such as radiators or tanks, using brackets, clamps, tools, or welding equipment.
  • Modify, clean, or maintain pipe systems, units, fittings, or related machines or equipment, using hand or power tools.
  • Select pipe sizes, types, or related materials, such as supports, hangers, or hydraulic cylinders, according to specifications.
  • Assemble pipe sections, tubing, or fittings, using couplings, clamps, screws, bolts, cement, plastic solvent, caulking, or soldering, brazing, or welding equipment.
  • Install pipe assemblies, fittings, valves, appliances such as dishwashers or water heaters, or fixtures such as sinks or toilets, using hand or power tools.
  • Install automatic controls to regulate pipe systems.
  • Shut off steam, water, or other gases or liquids from pipe sections, using valve keys or wrenches.
  • Keep records of work assignments.
  • Direct helpers engaged in pipe cutting, preassembly, or installation of plumbing systems or components.
  • Install pipe systems to support alternative energy-fueled systems, such as geothermal heating or cooling systems.
  • Weld small pipes or special piping, using specialized techniques, equipment, or materials, such as computer-assisted welding or microchip fabrication.
  • Operate motorized pumps to remove water from flooded manholes, basements, or facility floors.
  • Lay out full scale drawings of pipe systems, supports, or related equipment, according to blueprints.
  • Inspect, examine, or test installed systems or pipe lines, using pressure gauge, hydrostatic testing, observation, or other methods.
  • Plan pipe system layout, installation, or repair, according to specifications.

Career List

Job Outlook


Total Current Jobs:
469,900
Annual Openings:
51,000
Increase in Openings by 2030:
5%
Annual Salary Range:
$33,460 - $98,990
Education Requirements:
High school diploma